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Python Regular Expressions in Python Introduction to Regular Expressions Reading Files

Jerimiah Willhite
Jerimiah Willhite
12,014 Points

Why would you not just use 'search' all the time? What's the use of 'match'?

Just curious as to how useful the match function is? Is it because match only returns something at the start of a line, and you can use that to differentiate between items that may have the same values but occupy different places? Does anyone have any real-world examples where it specifically would be more beneficial to use match instead of search?

1 Answer

Robert Stefanic
Robert Stefanic
35,170 Points

Match is useful, like you said, to match from the beginning of the string. That's the point of using match. Let's say I have a field where I want to check for zip codes. I don't want any 5 digits that appear in the string: I only want those 5 digits of the zip code, starting from the beginning. If there's anything else, then there won't be a match.

With that said, you could use search and add (^) to the beginning of your regular expression. This would make it so that the expression check for a match starting from the beginning of the string, not just any match found in the string.

Here's an example:

import re

# Using search to find any match in the string

re.search("4", "123456") 
""" Match found """

# The following two are equivalent 

re.search("^4", "123456") """ No match found """
re.match("4", "123456") """ No match found """
Jerimiah Willhite
Jerimiah Willhite
12,014 Points

Interesting! Thanks for the example!